Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) (Nurse’s Aide)

Department of Inspections, Appeals, & Licensing


A certified nursing assistant (CNA, also referred to as a nurse’s aide) provides personal care including feeding, bathing, and assisting patients with personal hygiene. They check patients’ vital signs, make progress assessments, deliver meals, maintain a secure environment, and perform treatments and other tasks. The CNA works under the supervision of a licensed nurse. Contact DIAL for more information about CNA certification or about the Iowa Direct Care Worker Registry.

Code Citation 441 Iowa Administrative Code Chapter 81

Who Applies All potential certified nursing assistants (CNAs). Nurse aides hold certificates in Iowa, not licenses.

When To Apply There is no formal application process. An individual wishing to become a CNA must either enroll themselves or be sponsored by their employer to take the 75-hour course and competency tests (usually at a community college).

Initial Requirements An individual wishing to become a CNA in Iowa must either enroll themselves or be sponsored by their employer to take the 75-hour course and competency tests provided by a testing site (usually a community college). Thirty of the 75 course hours are clinical. After one has completed the course and passed both the skills and written competency tests, the individual’s name and scores are submitted automatically to DIAL. The individual is placed on the Iowa Direct Care Worker (DCW) Registry and issued a six-digit ID number. If a person is currently on a direct care/CNA registry in another state, they should visit www.dia.iowa.gov for information on how to transfer to the Iowa registry.

Duration The certificate does not expire. Standing on the registry expires if the CNA stops working as a CNA for 24 months.

Processing Time Varies; Please allow at least two weeks.

Fee Structure No cost for application or renewal. Cost for exams are $60 (written) $115 (skills). The cost of training is determined by the community college or entity where the course is offered. However, for aides working in certified nursing homes this fee is typically paid by the employer.

Renewal Requirements If employed as a nurse aide in a certified long-term care facility, the facility must provide and the aide must complete 12 hours of in-service training per year. To remain active on the Direct Care Worker Registry, the aide must perform at least eight hours qualifying employment in a two-year period.

Exam At the end of the training period, the applicant is required to take both a written and a practical (”skills”) exam to be employed in a Medicaid/Medicare-certified long-term care (LTC) facility (also known as a nursing facility/skilled nursing facility or ”nursing home”). The exam may be administered at the training facility. A person does not become active until both tests are passed within three attempts. If either test is failed three times, the individual is required by law to retake the course before beginning a new testing cycle.

Additional Information Nurse aides working in nursing and certified skilled nursing facilities are required to be on a nurse aide registry. If a nurse aide does not work in that occupation for two years, the aide will have to retake both competency tests to get their status updated on the registry and to be eligible to work in Iowa. Guidelines and requirements for CNAs vary according to where the individual is going to work; contact the Department of Inspections and Appeals for more information. Individuals who are found guilty of abusing, neglecting, or mistreating residents by a court of law or who have had a finding of abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or misappropriation of resident property will be designated as not eligible for employment on the state nurse aide registry.

Services Provided

Service Category

  • Service SubCategory
Contact Information
Milissa Patmore
6200 Park Avenue
Suite 100
Des Moines, IA 50321